Following Chelsea’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Burnley on Monday night, a game where Chelsea failed to capitalise after all of their rivals lost over the weekend, emotions have been high amongst fans and yet again Maurizio Sarri has come under fire, along with the players. However, it’s all well and good to call for Sarri’s head but who should actually replace him? Or should he remain at the helm? Here’s what our very own writers think:
Dan Barker | @danbarkzr
“For me, it’s tough. I like Maurizio Sarri, I really do, and I’d love him to be a success here, his system can work and when it does it’s great – as he proved with Napoli. I understand he needs time and investment but how much of each? We aren’t a club willing to spend quite like we have in the past, you won’t see us splashing £50M on a fullback like Manchester City or breaking transfer records like the Spanish clubs. Plus with a transfer ban looking likely he won’t be able to get the improvements he desperately needs for his system to work.
I respect Sarri and hope he goes on to find success, I’d never hurl abuse at the man like certain fans both online and in the stadium do. It’s just plain wrong. I do think, however, we need a change – a manager who is better suited to this club and can connect better with the fanbase.
Let’s not overreact, we are still a European giant and do still have some spending power to sign big names. We’re linked to Nicholas Pepe, Phillipe Coutinho, Gareth Bale and more but I think a manager who can utilise a balanced squad of talented youth and star names would be ideal. Unfortunately the perfect candidate for that is Mauricio Pochettino and let’s be honest that is never going to happen. He’s either going to stay at Spurs, go to Real Madrid or go to Manchester United. I think it probably is too early to call for the Chelsea dream team of Frank Lampard, Jody Morris and John Terry to take control at the club but their time will come.
Until then? I’d take Leonardo Jardim from the realistic candidates. His Monaco side have struggled this season but they were great previously and even managed to win a league title and briefly end that french PSG monopoly, as well as reach a Champions League semi final. They play entertaining football but are not so possession focused like we see with Sarri, which is something fans have been frustrated by as it can become tedious. Another option for me would be Nuno Espírito Santo from Wolves – they play an almost Conte-esque style but it’s more exciting and less defensive. With our squad I think that style could work and is proven against our top six rivals. In either case we need a director of football and either a personnel or culture shift from the board. Abramovich needs get his passion back too! I love the man and he’s done wonders for this club since taking over but seems to have possibly lost a bit of interest in the last few years. I’m going to bottle it a little bit and say that I wouldn’t be massively against Sarri remaining, at least for one more season to try and properly implement his system. But I think if we do have this transfer ban he won’t be able to do that, so I wouldn’t mind getting in someone like Jardim or Nuno either. So I’m sort of sitting on the fence.”
James Prescott | @PGCFC001
“My frustrations with the current management are long documented. Sarri is out of his depth, his in-game management is shockingly bad, he won’t adapt tactically during games, or to the squad he has, which is clearly more suited to a different type of play, he’s been too slow to both drop and pick players on merit and above all, I don’t see a winning mentality from him. The problems at the club are not just with management, the squad is not good enough, and the club have no football structure. With a possible transfer ban, it’s a chance to step back, assess what we have, and begin a long process of restructuring the football club, with a clear football and transfer strategy and a long term plan. This is the project we need at the club. Leonardo Jardim would be an excellent candidate to head this up, I would say with John Terry as his assistant. But if, as seems likely, Jardim is unobtainable, the case for Frank Lampard is growing. People who say he isn’t ready underestimate the man, and the manager. If we gave him this project, with a clear long term football strategy and a director of football, and committed to him for an initial minimum of 3 years whatever the results, with the goal to extend this, I think it would work and the fans would have patience with it. With no CL football and a transfer ban the expectations would be more realistic. Many fans seem to think whoever the next manager is will be boo’ed after one bad run. What they forget, and seem to ignore, is the reality that Jose Mourinho took us to our lowest ever league position and worst run of form since the early nineties, yet even in his last game, crowds were cheering is name, supporting him, backing him to stay and turn it around. And why? Because he had a connection to the club and the fans. Fans trusted him, he got the club, he knew the fans expectations. The reason Sarri gets such stick is that he isn’t trusted by a lot of fans, has never established any connection to the club’s fanbase, in fact in many ways he has done the opposite and fans have never truly trusted him, even when things were going well. So of course, patience with him is much less. I certainly have almost no trust of Sarri. As a club legend, leader, winner who loves the club, has the fans trust, and knows what the club is all about, Lampard will get patience others won’t get. And with his power at the club, no player power will win out against him, not with the fans, and he’ll be able to make demands in terms of structure and planning others might not be able to do. Alongside an experienced and well connected director of football, with Jody Morris as his assistant, it could be a great team to lead Chelsea forward. In truth though, any competent manager with top level experience and a decent track record – including others linked, like Nuno Santo and Javi Gracia, would be much more suited to the Chelsea job than Sarri, and do a better job. But for me, it’s Jardim or Lampard.”
Chris Wright | @chriswrightzz
“I’ve very much been Sarri out for quite sometime now. We all want a long term manager but that is not a reason to keep him. Basic errors including his team selections, stubbornness, poor substitutions & tactics, lack of rotation and his general inability to get the best out the squad is his downfall. Who to replace Sarri? To be honest right now I don’t know. What I do know is the first thing we have to do is sack him. It’s toxic right through the club at the moment & it’s not working out. I personally feel we have a better chance of success in the Europa League without Sarri. Possibly Zola for final few games and get the permanent manager in the summer. I think the Wolves boss, Nuno Espírito Santo could be a good option.”
Danyal Khan | @DKMatchReports
“I think we should stick with Sarri at this moment, but if things get worse and he keeps being stubborn, then we need to replace him. For his replacement, I would go completely left field and get someone like Eddie Howe in. He’s a young manager with lots of potential. He isn’t stubborn, and will give youth a good chance to shine and flourish at Chelsea Football Club. And most importantly, he plays an attacking brand of football which is what Abramovich is looking for. However the only way this appointment will work will be if the structure of the club changes. We need a football director and need to get the likes of Marina off the board. That would be a start. And we would have to give Sarri or this new manager more of a say in transfers and who we get in.”
Liam Wilson | @liam98wilson
“I didn’t particularly want Sarri last summer as I was aware of his stubbornness and lack of silverware as a manager, but once it was between Blanc and Sarri, I preferred the latter. However, Sarri is clearly a long-term manager. He’s not someone who can come into a club and stamp his philosophy on the club instantly, he needs time. If we want to see the best of Sarri, and I think we all do, he needs to be given a sufficient amount of time to implement his style on a team that has predominantly played a defensive style of football in recent years.”
Dan McCarthy | @MaccaSport
Keep Sarri – Give him a chance to potentially get a couple more of “his” players to adequately fit his system. I believe he deserves a full pre-season to go over his methods. He never had that this year, meaning the team had to learn as they went. The core of the philosophy/shape is done here, so he deserves that. However, if we miss out on top four. I can see, and would slightly understand him being sacked. Personally would love Tuchel for his tactical/stern approach (if Sarri were to be sacked), however he is unlikely. A more attainable option may be Nuno. I like his flexible tactical approach to the game, clearly recruits well, and brings an honesty/aesthetic to the game.
Terry Sazio | @sazio1984
“My manager for next season? It won’t take a rocket scientist to work out who I think it should be. In all seriousness though – I want it to be Sarri still for a few reasons. 1 – The squad he inherited is both very average (arguably the weakest of the top 6) and have been used to playing the complete opposite style of football for multiple years now. 2 – He needs players that can play this style of football. He has had backing, but it’s minimal compared to previous managers and managers at other clubs who have been building a long-term project. 3 – There is no outstanding candidate out-there that screams “we have to hire him”. Mainly because we’ve hired and fired so many over the years that we’ve simply running out of options. To those have been linked this season: Holland/JT – know the club inside out, buth little to no experience of managing. Blanc – In the wilderness for multiple years, not a good sign. Zidane – Already back at Real Madrid. Howe – Sarri is constantly ridiculed for ‘not winning trophies’, but what has Howe won? Lampard – FAR TOO EARLY. Do not want his legacy tarnished due to the impatience/entitlement of the board and certain fans. Nuno Espírito Santo – Let’s judge him after next season to see if Wolves suffer the typical ‘second season syndrome’. Gracia – Because he got to a cup final? Ten Haag – Basically a younger version of Sarri so no real difference. I’ve always maintained the opinion of giving him a full pre-season, a summer of complete backing (investment, if possible of course) and then judge him after a few weeks into next season. Also, I’m just tired of the revolving door mentality of the club. Time to start actually building a long-term plan.”
Paree | @ACParee
For me, Maurizio Sarri. Of course he has many problems, but so does every other manager. He hasn’t been backed by the board, except for Jorginho, (Higuain he wanted 6 months earlier). It’s not like he despises the youth, he’s given Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi a proper run for a couple games. His demand for mentality is EXACTLY what the club needs right now. Finally, the most convincing reason for me is, who do we replace him with realistically? For me, no one is currently out there I’d take at the moment, especially with a possible transfer ban.
So, there’s the opinions of some of our writers on exactly who should be in charge next season. As expected a seriously mixed bag and a fairly even split between keeping Sarri and appointing someone new. Our writers certainly had some interesting suggestions, don’t hesitate to let us know yours in the comments.
Chelsea currently sit 4th in the Premier League table and will face Frankfurt in the Europa League semi finals, with a pivotal game coming up against Manchester United. Keep an eye out for our previews and predictions.
Written by Dan Barker | @danbarkzr